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Minister of State, Fed. Ministry of Works & Housing, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, Fnse (3rd From Left Front Row); Foci D-G, Engr. Mrs Olubunmi O. Adekoje (1st Left);  Rep. of Hon. Min. of Labour & Employment, Mrs Chinedu Dike; Foci President, Engr. Nasir Dantata;  Rep. of the Hon. Minister of Education, Dr. Kudirat Ibiyemi Oladipo; Julius Berger MD, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter; and  Dep. Head of Mission Embassy of Germany, Helmut Kulitz at the Foci-Jbn Skills Academy Ground-Breaking Ceremony in Abuja Last Friday

The Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Engr. Dr. Lars Richter, in Abuja on Friday, stated that it as a celebratory pride for the nation’s leading engineering construction company to participate in the great initiative to build and host the pioneer Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) artisanal skills development academy in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory.

According to Richter, the Academy building, when completed, will house two Carpentry training workshops of 348 m2 each; two Masonry training workshops of 348 m2 each; one Plumbing training workshop of 348 m2; one Welding training workshop of 348 m2; and ancillary facilities, such as offices, kitchen, first aid area and canteen.

The Managing Director said it was a great pleasure for him to be to be at the ground-breaking ceremony of the FOCI-JBN Skills Academy located at Julius Berger’s ONEX yard, where Julius Berger has commenced construction works for the academy’s school building.

Tracing the history of the academy, Dr. Richter said the idea has been in the making for several years. “The journey has been a long but fruitful one… and today, we mark the transformation of the idea – of an artisan academy to develop adequately skilled construction tradesmen and women – into reality via an academy building soon to house a world class dual vocational apprenticeship training program”, he said.

Richter, on behalf of Julius Berger and member companies, thanked the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI)for its continuous efforts to bring together the construction industry and champion the causes most important to the sector. FOCI’s efforts, he said, continues to give justification for member companies’ “investment in supporting the sustainable development of Nigeria’s construction industry”.

Dr. Richter also extended his appreciative thanks to the GIZ, a developmental initiative of the German Government, for their ongoing support to enhance the capacities of individuals and organizations in Nigeria.

The Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatude Raji Fashola, SAN, who was ably represented by the Minister of State in the Ministry, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, FNSE, highlighted that President Mohammadu Buhari aims for government to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the year 2030, adding that the inauguration of a National Skills Development Council chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, is meant to actualize that goal.

Also speaking at the event, the President ofFOCI, Engr. Nasiru Dantata,who proudly announced to the gathering that he started his engineering practice with his stint as a member of the National Youth Service Corps at Julius Berger, called on the Government and all other stakeholders to support the strategic and visionary Skills Academy..

Other speakers at the event included the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment who was ably represented by his Special Adviser, Technical, Mrs Chinedu Dike; the Hon. Minister of Education well represented by the erudite Dr. Kudirat Ibiyemi Oladipo; and the Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Germany, Helmut Kulitz.

The Industrial Training Fund (ITF), the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB); and the Press were also in attendance at the event. The National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture & Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) was also present at the event. The GIZ team was ably led to the ceremony by its Team Leader, Felix Nitz.